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Thread: Haragei

  1. #1
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    Default Haragei

    Aloha everyone,

    Can anyone explain what Haragei is?
    Regards,
    Joel

    Isaiah 6:8

  2. #2
    yamamatsuryu Guest

    Default Haragei

    Hmm,
    Actually, there are a couple of definitions that come to mind, but I would be at a loss without looking at the Kanji.

    An Aiki explimation is "The center (Hara) of the body used in manifesting ki".

    Haragei is also translated as belly-speak (Hara=Belly and Gei=subtleness), or the ability to get your point across without much dialog.

    Haragei can also mean "Listening to Silence"

    The list goes on and on

    I hope I've been some help

    Jared Albrecht

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    Haragei literally means "the art of the lower belly". In a general, non-martial arts sense, it means to have a highly developed intuition that allows a person to grasp the true nature of a situation without having to resort to explicit verbal communication. A person with haragei will be able to look behind what a person says to what they really mean and will also be able to successfully hide his own true intentions if necessary.

    Traditionally, the Japanese have believed that the seat of the soul is located in the hara, and have a lot of phrases that indicate this:

    "Hara ga suwatteiru" "His belly is solidly seated", meaning that the person has determination and confidence and is not easily perturbed.

    "Hara wo watte hanasu" "To split the belly and talk", meaning to have a frank conversation where nothing is hidden; that is, the contents of one's hara are exposed (not the same as "spilling your guts", although there is a similar connotation of being completeley honest).

    "Hara no saguriai" "Searching one another's bellies", meaning the subtle mental fencing involved in trying to discover the other's true intentions without exposing your own. This process uses a lot of feints, parries, mis-direction, traps and general subterfuge, and a certain amount of what people in the West would call lying but what salesmen everywhere recognize as strategy.

    It should be easy to see how this applies to martial arts, since the process of a conflict usually involves hiding your own true intent while discovering the intentions of the enemy and using that information to devise various traps and strategems to defeat him. This can only be accomplished if you, in your turn, have the "haragei" needed to not be fooled by the enemy's strategems. In a physical sense, this is accomplished by learning to be calm and unruffled (hara ga suwatteiru) so that the enemy's intent becomes clear.
    Last edited by Earl Hartman; 22nd January 2002 at 18:11.
    Earl Hartman

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    Default

    Aloha,

    Thanks for the replies. It makes a little more sense to me.
    Regards,
    Joel

    Isaiah 6:8

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    Default

    There is a book with the same title by Michihiro Matsumoto, published in 1984 by Kodansha. The ISBN is 4-06-201033-X. It is a good book for learners of Japanese, since it contains both the Japanese text and the English translation.

    Best regards,
    _______________
    P A Goldsbury,
    Graduate School of Social Sciences,
    Hiroshima University

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    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiianvw67
    Aloha everyone,

    Can anyone explain what Haragei is?
    As it pertains to martial arts:

    "The Bushi of Feudal Japan were trained and conditioned to wield their weapons with deadly accuracy and precision. They dedicated their lives to honing their skills with the sword. But the skills that manifest themselves on the exterior of a warrior, his techniques, were not the only skills that he sought to perfect. The greatest Sensei would have taught that "no method, whatever its apparent merit, had any real value unless it helped develop a man's character which would make him master of his weapon and thus truly powerful in its use." (Ratti & Westbrook, 376)

    Many teachers adopted ancient theories of enlightenment. Concepts that were developed by those theories were accepted by and adapted to fit the particular requirements of the bujin. Two of these concepts became cornerstones of all teaching, from the most basic to the most advanced training in every form of bujutsu: the concept of the "Centre", Hara (often referred to as Tanden) and the concept of an internal flowing energy, Ki (from the Chinese, Qi)."


    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haragei
    Antun Sisgoreo

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    That Wikipedia definition is not what most Japanese people would understand by the term "haragei".

    And I assume the the Ratti and Westbrook quote is from "Secrets of the Samurai".

    I have that book. I use it as a doorstop. Works pretty well.
    Earl Hartman

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    Aww, come on, Earl. It has some great pictures. I have no idea what they are supposed to be showing, but they look pretty.
    David Sims

    "Cuius testiculos habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum." - Terry Pratchet

    My opinion is, in all likelihood, worth exactly what you are paying for it.

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    Oscar Ratti's wonderful illustrations are the best part of Ratti & Westbrook's books... unless you need a doorstop or two.

    Michihiro Matsumoto's book referenced by Peter Goldsbury above is an excellent book on haragei. I've heard quite a number of people authoritatively go on about what haragei is and then use an old adventure novel that also mentions shibui and shibumi as the source of the authority. Not the best reference I suspect.
    Chuck Clark
    Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
    http://www.jiyushinkai.org

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Clark
    Oscar Ratti's wonderful illustrations are the best part of Ratti & Westbrook's books... unless you need a doorstop or two.
    I use my copy to press the leather when i make my laminated leather tsuba.
    I like heavy books!
    Sven Beulke
    [email protected]
    Bremen, Germany

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    I was actually in the bookstore last night and noticed a newer, paperback version of Secrets of the Samurai. I thumbed through it and was amazed at how much not-quite-right information I found. With all the accurate information that Draeger was putting out, it amazes me that they could have been this far off.

    An instructor of mine recently told me that he once read a review of Draeger's budo/bujutsu books that described them as "a poor man's Secrets of the Samurai." I guess it's just more proof of what the public wants.
    David Sims

    "Cuius testiculos habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum." - Terry Pratchet

    My opinion is, in all likelihood, worth exactly what you are paying for it.

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    I was actually in the bookstore last night and noticed a newer, paperback version of Secrets of the Samurai. I thumbed through it and was amazed at how much not-quite-right information I found. With all the accurate information that Draeger was putting out, it amazes me that they could have been this far off.
    To be fair, Ratty and Westbrooke doing there best. If you check there bibiography you see how desparetly they struggle for information. At the time "Secrets...." was published the only book by Draeger about the topic was "Asian Fighting Arts" (with Robert Smith). They used it as a reference and especially the ninjutsu part is not very useful. Maybe the worst thing Donn Draeger has ever written.
    Best
    Sven Beulke
    [email protected]
    Bremen, Germany

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    The main reason I disliked it, aside from the breathless, chanbara-style pictures (the one showing the seated, meditating aikido guy burning up as merged with the Universe was particularly galling), is because, as far as I could tell, the authors had no first-hand experience with what they were writing about and were clearly relying on secondary sources. It was the worst kind of armchair scholarship.

    It was clear that they didn't know how to read primary sources. For example, in the kyujutsu section they mention three schools of kyujutsu: the Nichioku, the Hioki, and the Heki schools. If they had known how to read Japanaese, they would have known that these are all simply variant readings of the characters 日置, the surname of the progenitor of the Heki Ryu (日置流), Heki Danjo Masatsugu (日置弾正政次). While I have heard the variant "Hioki" I have never heard the school referred to as "Nichioku", although a person with a rudimentary understanding of kanji and armed with a copy of Nelson's could very easily come to the conclusion that the characters 日置 were pronounced "Nichioku". However, a person actually conversant with kyujutsu would know that these characters are most commonly pronounced "Heki" and would have realized that the variant readings "Hioki" and "Nichioku" (never heard of this one) both referred to the same school.

    My overall impression of the book is that the authors simply did a data dump of all of the secondary English-language sources on martial arts they could lay their hands on, gussied them up with romantic pictures of warriror sages with supercilious looks on their faces throwing people around or disembowelling them (I assume they were supposed to be "enlightened"), crammed the whole thing between two covers, and gave it a title that would conjure up images of ninjas skulking around castles at night, only to make a magic mudra and disappear in a puff of smoke if they were discovered.
    Earl Hartman

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